Program to support creating mentally healthy workplaces

Queensland Government agencies play a vital role in supporting employees' mental health and wellbeing. Research indicates almost 20% of Queensland's population experience a mental health issue at any one time, and there are times when supporting those who may be developing or experiencing a mental health illness is needed.

As the state's largest employer, we are committed to:

  • fostering workplaces that support positive mental health and wellbeing
  • creating healthy and safe workplaces where our people can thrive and achieve their best.

The sector's approach is outlined in the Creating mentally healthy workplaces: Healthy minds and more broadly in the Be healthy, be safe, be well framework. The Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's Mentally healthy workplace toolkit can assist in implementation of programs that support the Healthy Minds approach. Their focus is firmly on promotion of mental health and prevention of psychological injury by creating mentally healthy workplace cultures that foster psychological safety and inclusion.

Find out what other workplace programs are available to build greater awareness of the continuum of mental health, what are common mental illnesses and how to support those who may be experiencing mental illness, be in distress and/or experiencing a crisis. The programs listed are the most used in workplaces and is not an exhaustive list.

Remember: it is important to determine the role and purpose of your program before embarking.

Employee assistance programs

Employee assistance programs (EAP) provide free, professional and confidential counselling services to assist you and your immediate family members through both personal and work-related problems.

Counsellors are qualified, experienced professionals who have extensive training in counselling and workplace consulting.

The Queensland Government's standing offer arrangement for workplace health services (SOA QGP0048-18) lists a number of EAP providers in Group 1. These services can be tailored for employees who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, LGBTIQ+, employees with disability, and employees affected by domestic and family violence.

Learn more about employee assistance programs.

Mental health first aid

Mental health first aid teaches people simple, practical first aid skills for helping a family member, friend, colleague or other person experiencing mental health problems. The course will teach you how to listen and respond to someone with a mental health problem, even if they are experiencing a crisis. You will also learn how to help someone to access the support they might need for the successful management of symptoms as part of their recovery journey.

Mental Health First Aid Australia can provide Queensland public sector agencies with mental health first aid training. Courses are available in-person, blended (in-person and online) or 100% online. The online course consists of two short sessions and an assessment.

Mental Health First Aid Australia also run workplace recognition programs for bronze, silver and gold levels of workplace commitment.

Learn the skills to make a difference.

Psychological first aid

Psychological first aid training equips people with the skills needed to support people affected by an emergency, disaster or traumatic event.

Psychological first aid differs from mental health first aid in that it focuses on helping others to feel safe, build resiliency, connect with others and learn to cope with day-to-day and long-term stresses, trauma, loss, and grief.

The Australian Red Cross is the primary provider of this training and can be provided to Queensland public sector agencies.

Find out more about the training.

Psychological wellbeing and resilience

For employees to be at their best and cope with normal levels of stress, they need mentally healthy workplaces and require high levels of psychological wellbeing and resilience.

The Queensland Government's standing offer arrangement for workplace health services (SOA QGP0048-18) lists a number of providers in Group 3 that can work with Queensland public sector agencies to create tailored psychological wellbeing programs. They are experienced professionals—generally psychologists—available to enhance the emotional, mental and general psychological wellbeing of employees. While these are not mental health first aid providers, their programs can cover similar aspects like the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and how to refer people to professional assistance. They can offer programs that promote psychological wellbeing and resilience, often considered protective factors for mental illness.

Early intervention

Early intervention programs (EIPs) provide managers and employees with the opportunity to be involved in solutions to workplace issues that may involve complex issues, including mental health issues. EIPs ensure the best possible support is available to an employee who may be going through a tough time. Employee involvement in an EIP is voluntary and they can opt out of receiving early intervention support at any time. Sometimes, both an employee and their manager can receive EIP support to be able to effectively navigate a situation with difficult or uncomfortable conversations.

Learn more about the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy's early intervention program.

Mental health coaching

Developed by Beyond Blue, NewAccess is a free and confidential mental health coaching program for anyone feeling stressed or overwhelmed about everyday life issues, such as work, study, relationships, health or loneliness. New research shows it can assist in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.

The coaching program is based on low-intensity Cognitive Based Therapy and is a structured, evidence-based psychological treatment. Put simply, it allows participants to recognise the way we think, act and feel.

NewAccess coaches work alongside participants on a problem, develop an understanding of what is causing distress, and guide the use of tools and strategies can be used in day-to-day life.

Learn about NewAccess.

Peer support

Peer support programs include trained and qualified employees—who have lived experience of a mental illness—to assist other employees who are struggling with mental health challenges or illnesses. The support can be emotional or practical that is mutually offered and reciprocal.

There are a few things to consider when setting up and providing a peer support program, for example determining your specific needs, targeting your recruitment and selection of peer supporters and ensuring the peer supporters are well trained and looked after. Use these resources to help you:

Read how the Queensland Ambulance Service and West Moreton Health have implemented tailored peer support programs.

Suicide prevention

Suicide is a significant public health issue in Australia and Queensland has the second highest rate in the nation. As EveryLife: the Queensland Suicide Prevention Plan outlines, suicide is preventable and it's everyone's business to play a part, including workplaces.

Suicide prevention programs in the workplace should be targeted specifically to an individuals' safety needs and the appropriate level of skills required to support them. Black Dog Institute provides some guidance on evidenced based programs.

In Australia, the most widely used training programs in the workplace are:

  • 'Gatekeeper' programs, such as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
  • Safe Talks (Livingworks)
  • Question, Persuade, Refer
  • Gatekeeper training online
  • Mental Health First Aid.

Gatekeeper programs aim to equip people with the skills to identify, recognise and respond to those at risk and assist them to seek appropriate help.

Several other public service jurisdictions (the Commonwealth, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania) have implemented a UK-based program, Connecting with People, which is evidence-based and has been tailored to the Australian context.

HeadsUp also provides free suicide prevention resources that you can implement within your agency.

Read how Energy Queensland and Office of Industrial Relations have implemented tailored programs for their staff and customers.